In-Depth: Hospital emergency rooms packed, ambulances left waiting |

In-Depth: Hospital emergency rooms packed, ambulances left waiting

Jennifer Lewke
Updated: June 03, 2021 05:45 PM
Created: June 03, 2021 04:37 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — For the past several weeks, News10NBC has been investigating ambulance response times in and around the City of Rochester. On top of a major shortage of EMTs and Paramedics and low starting pay, one of the other major problems we’ve heard time and time again is that ambulances are getting stacked up at local emergency rooms.  

If you or a loved one need an ambulance, specifically in the City of Rochester, chances are you’ll wait longer now for it than you would have in years past. AMR, the company with the city contract, and most other local agencies are dealing with a staffing shortage but their wait-times to unload patients at area hospitals has been on the rise too.  

“There are days that we know when we get to the hospital, they have what's called 'no beds' — because all the beds upstairs are full,” explained Reg Allen the Chief of CHS Healthcare, which serves a number of Westside communities.

“It’s a vicious cycle where you're picking somebody up, you're transporting them to the hospital. The hospital doesn't normally have someplace to put them, the crews get stuck there because there's no place to put a patient so, they keep them on your stretcher then the next call comes in and low and behold you don't have an ambulance to send,” added Mike Bove, the Deputy Chief of Monroe Ambulance.

The situation is worse at certain times of the day and on certain days. The health systems say they’re doing what they can.

“For the time being, because of the pressure on the emergency departments, we have a citywide agreement that there are no visitors in the emergency departments," said Dr. Robert Mayo, the Chief Medical Officer at Rochester Regional Health.

But the reality is, “the emergency rooms remain very busy, busier than even pre-pandemic. A lot of the concern that you've heard from emergency medical services has to do with patients in the ED… not visitors and social distancing,” said Dr. Michael Apostolakas, the Chief Medical Officer at URMC.

Strong Hospital continues to use portable space, originally set up for COVID response, outside the emergency department for extra room. In the meantime, Dr. Apostolakas said freeing up beds that have been taken over the last year by those with the virus, will help.

“We can reduce the number of patients admitted with COVID and we can do that through vaccination it'll open up more space for patients from the emergency room to get admitted to the hospital and more room for patients from emergency vehicles to get into the emergency rooms, quicker,” Dr. Apostolakas said.

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